quick look on Japanese history (3) Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi period

(6) Heiann period (794-1192)

(Kyoto national museum)

The capital of Japan was moved from Yamato area to Kyoto and the new capital was called as Heiannkyo. Since then, Kyoto(Heiannkyo) could remain as the capital of Japan for more than 1000 years until Meiji new government moved the capital to Tokyo in 1868.

Heiann period continued almost 400years. Although there were small civil wars and rebellions, this period kept peaceful time and developed Heiann court culture.

During this period, there were 33 Emperors. Among them, 18 took the position at under 20 years old and moreover 13 Emperors were under 10 years old out of 18 Emperors. Above indicated the role of Emperor changed from power to symbol.

In accordance with the development of Kana letters, Japanese literature left remarkable achievements such as female writer’s the tale of Genjior the Pillow bookand also lots of imperial commissioned poems anthology and splendid picture scrolls and so on.

picture scrolls (from wikipedia)

(7)Kamakur period(1192-1333)

Towards the end of Heiann period, there were frequent conflicts among court nobles and samurai fighters. Through those conflicts two big samurai group, Genji and Heike raised their heads and finally Genji controlled the civil war and opened the government in Kamakura 450km east of Kyoto.

The power which controlled the state shifted from the court nobles in Kyoto to the samurais in Kamakura, nevertheless the authority remained in the hands of successive Emperors in Kyoto.

Zen sect appeared

New cultures led by samurais were born and lots of new leaders and sects of Buddhism appeared during this period. Japanese remarkable theory, “sannsennsoumoku shikkaijoubutsu” was also born from Zen sect in this period.

Mongolian attacks

By the way, Japan had been protected by the ocean and never assaulted by foreigners. As an remarkable historical event in this period, Japan was assaulted twice by Mongolian dynasty ,Yuan. However the then leader of the government, Hojo Tokimune prepared carefully and drove back Mongolians. He was one of the greatest heros of Japanese history as he successfully defeated the attackers and kept invaluable Japanese culture intact.

(8)Muromachi period(1333-1573)

Toward the end of Kamakura period, Imperial house was separated into two sects and samurais were also divided into two groups and fought each other. Finally Kamakura Shogunate lost the control and after several years turmoil, Ashikaga Shogunate regained the control and established new government at Muromachi in Kyoto.

Birth of traditional Japanese arts

The third Shogunate built Kinkakuji while the 7th shogunate built Ginnkakuji as below. Besides the two, lots of beautiful temples with sophisticated gardens were built.

Apart from these noble arts, public arts also emerged. One was SarugakuDengaku which was the origine of Noh and Kabuki, the other was Renga which was the origin of famous Haiku. Those amusements, together with Tea party became popular among public. Muromachi period cultivated various kinds of traditional Japanese arts.

Meantime, in the latter half of this period, there were lots of peasant uprisings which lead to an autonomy of villages. Three quarters of present Japanese villages and towns originated from this period.

Kinnkakuji(gold pavilion from wikipedia) Ginnkakuji(silver pavilion from wikipedia)

The age of civil wars

The latter half of Muromachi was called as the age of civil wars.

Muromachi Shogunate controlled the state with the supports from provincial military governments. However gradually those provincial governments became stronger and the Shogunate lost the control. After around 100years turmoil, Oda Nobunaga, one of many small provincial warlords took the power and became the supreme ruler.